England have added offspinning allrounder Moeen Ali to their squad ahead of the second Test in Grenada, which starts on April 21.
Moeen was not named in the original squad after he sustained a side strain during the World Cup, but he played in Worcestershire’s first Championship match of the season and reported no reaction after bowling. He was then assessed by the ECB medical team and cleared to meet up with the rest of the squad in Grenada ahead of the second Test.
Having bowled only 11 overs against Yorkshire, England are keen to ensure Moeen is fit to bowl the heavy allocation of overs that could be required of him in a Test. They will therefore assess him further before making a decision whether to send anyone else in the party home. But it remains likely that Adil Rashid will return to England before the end of the tour.
While the England management retain high hopes that Rashid, the 27-year-old legspinner, could go on to play an important job for the team in the future, he produced a modest performance in the warm-up game in St Kitts and missed out on the spinner’s spot in the first Test team to James Tredwell. With no games between Tests, there is little further opportunity for him to impress.
Rashid is one of six Yorkshire players in the squad and one of four not picked for the XI in this game. While that situation has irked some at Yorkshire – the club president, Dickie Bird, chided the England management over the situation – Peter Moores and co. feel they need the reserves in case any of the players struggle to get through three Tests in such a short period of time. There are just three days between the first two Tests.
While those players not required in the final Test, in Barbados, could be released once the game starts – with the exception of a substitute fielder or two – Yorkshire do not have a Championship match that week.
But it could be that any players returning early to England will be considered for the ODI in Ireland on May 8. None of the players involved in the Barbados Test will be available for that game – they are only scheduled to return to the UK at 6am on May 7 – so England are expected to field a new-look side, almost certainly captained by James Taylor and likely to include Kent’s Sam Billings.
Moeen established himself as England’s first-choice spinner during the Test series against India when he claimed 19 wickets; only one behind Ray Illingworth’s record for an England spinner in a home series against India. Moeen also made a Test century against Sri Lanka and will strengthen England’s batting.
But he may yet find it tricky to displace Tredwell, who bowled beautifully in the first innings in Antigua and finished with Test-best figures of 4 for 47.